A true professional

By Paddy Leethorp

paddy leethorp

Paddy Leethorp

Warren asked me for a few facts behind Zayn’s career from the perspective as his manager for about 15 years from the early 1970s.

I was his manager, at different points we were business partners, but most of all he was my friend.

Firstly I was his manager when in his days as frontman of Pacific Express. I was executive producer of his solo albums. Making records with him was different to working with other Cape stars, because Zayn did not really compose, so I had to get arrangers, writers and producers for him.

In the case of the song, Give a Little Love, which was as much a solo hit for him as it was for the Express, I knew we needed the big guns involved. Gerry Bosman arranged the strings, Boet Pretorius produced the recording session and Chris’s song was turned around by Zayn’s delivery, from a jazz thing to adult pop. Actually Zayn deserves credit there on the lyrics side I think.

We did three Pacific Express albums together and three Zayn solo albums. He was actually easy to work with, head strong but he could put his position and also listen to a good argument. He was a real pro.

I will always think of him as a classic crooner, but he could do jazz and pop and even rock. Ballads were his forte though. He could make you believe the words he sang. He was a true stylist.

As for his legacy – I think it will be that he was a fine example of a professional artist who had both talent and humility. He was an old school entertainer, an example of an artist who worked on his dream – no flash in the pan.

He actually taught me a lot, or at least I learned a lot while working together with him. He was the first artist I managed. He was very supportive.

He had a good take on politics. He was quite radical for his era but not negative and not bitter even though he suffered discrimination. He was a worldly guy as a result of his time in the UK and later in Germany. In relation to his circle of local artists, he had quite a bit of international exposure, so he could see the bigger picture, but that sadly made him want more than just SA fame.

We had a great deal of mutual respect for each other, which was the key to motivating me to open doors for him and in turn he delivered. I can’t remember a time when he let me down. Quite rare for artists!

He was also generous with his talent and took chances with me. He often helped me in the studio with vocal sessions on other peoples’ stuff.

Link to the official tribute from the record label – http://leethorpentertainment.blogspot.com/2015/02/rip-zayn-adams.html

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